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Patricia C. Wrede – Book of Enchantments

August 30, 2007

91. Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede (1996)

Length: 248 pages

Genre: Short Stories; Fantasy

Started: 29 August 2007
Finished: 30 August 2007

Summary: A collection of what I would call fairy tales or folk stories, although they’re mostly original imaginings – only one or two tread the ground of retelling familiar stories. There are stories of not-too-bright gods, singing enchantresses, vain unicorns, curses and werewolves, a bone harp that may or may not speak the truth, a curse that may have been left too long to be broken, an enchanted rose garden, an ancient sword with unusual power, and a short story from the Enchanted Forest, featuring Cimorene, Mendenbar and The Frying Pan of Doom. And, to top it all off, there’s a recipe at the end for Barbarian’s Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake (it makes more sense in context, I swear) (edit: Just made the cake, and it’s not the best cake I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty darn good).

Review: I enjoyed this book a lot more than a lot of the other “fairy tale” books I’ve read recently. A large part of that is that I really enjoy Patricia C. Wrede’s writing: it’s clever and elegant without getting too caught up in itself, and I think it’s accessible to younger readers without any talking down that might alienate adult readers. I was a little surprised about halfway through the book at how dark some of the stories were. All of Wrede’s writing that I’ve read so far (the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and the Sorcery & Cecelia series) have been for the most part pretty light and very witty, and the first few stories in this volume follow the same vein, so when I got to “Earthwitch”, with its darker view of magic and the cost it exacts, it was sort of… not off-putting, certainly, but it definitely threw me a little. Overall, though, every story had either substantial charm and humor, or some real power and emotional pull behind it, and sometimes both. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely worth the read for some original fairy tales that aren’t exclusively for kids.

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First Line: Once there was a wizard whose luck time was three days long.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 2:34 pm

    When you think about it most fairy tales are dark. I think my sister would like this.

  2. February 10, 2011 7:28 pm

    Patricia C. Wrede was my idol when I was about nine, so I of course read Book of Enchantments. The story about the three sisters scared the hell out of me. I am the middle one of three sisters myself, which is maybe why I had that response. But that was the first time I’d ever heard of that ballad, and I think of the Wrede story every time it comes up now.

  3. February 10, 2011 11:46 pm

    Oh, I love this book! I have her Enchanted Forest quartet, and I’ve really got to buy a copy of this one too. I love the mix of humorous stories with darker ones…I’m not sure there’s any story in here that I don’t enjoy, which is not usually the case for me with short story collections!

  4. February 20, 2011 3:02 pm

    Oooh, sounds good! I’m requesting it from the library now :)

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